Will partying pathogens capture public's interest?

Food safety agencies debut ads featuring dancing E. coli and salmonella

By Heidi Parsons contact

- Last updated on GMT

"Don't let E. coli mosh with your food," warns this public service announcement from FSIS.
"Don't let E. coli mosh with your food," warns this public service announcement from FSIS.

Related tags: Food safety, Food safety education, Foodborne illness, Us food and drug administration

"Don’t let E. coli mosh with your food. An estimated 3,000 Americans die from a foodborne illness each year. You can’t see these microbes, but they might be there. So always separate raw meat from vegetables. Keep your family safe… at FoodSafety.gov."

That’s the cheekily couched yet deadly serious message of a 30-second ad that should soon be airing on TVs across the US. A similar ad focusing on Salmonella is waiting in the wings as well (see video below).

The Salmonella video script reads: “Don’t let Salmonella get funky with your chicken. On average, 1 in 6 Americans will get a foodborne illness this year. You can’t see these microbes, but they might be there. So learn the right temperature to cook each type of meat. Keep your family safe… at FoodSafety.gov.”

The promos were jointly produced by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Both are available as 15- and 30 second spots in English or Spanish, and in versions crafted for radio and print media.

The ads are considered public service announcements (PSAs). As such, the nonprofit Ad Council is distributing the PSAs to a nationwide network of more than 33,000 media outlets, which will donate free time and space to the campaign.

Before a live audience

Among the first to see the 30-second spots were attendees of the recent Partnership for Food Safety Education conference. Chris Bernstein, deputy director for food safety education at USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), showed the ads just before a session featuring FDA’s Mike Taylor and USDA’s Brian Ronholm.

“We got our first placement of these ads in your conference brochure,” ​Bernstein told the group.

Another venue for the TV spots is YouTube. Videos for both the 15- and 30-second promos are posted on the USDA Food Safety channel.

The channel description states, “1 in 6 Americans will get sick from food poisoning this year. Food poisoning (also referred to as foodborne illness) is a serious public health threat in the United States, but there are practical steps that families can take at home to help reduce their risk of getting sick.”

“The Food Safe Families PSAs illustrate the four safe food handling behaviors — Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill — in memorable and relatable ways to help bring perspective to the issue and risk of food poisoning. Parents and caregivers are armed with practical tips to keep their families' safer, and are encouraged to check their steps at FoodSafety.gov.”

Related topics: Food Safety & Quality

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